{ Co-designed and fisher-driven ICTs towards transformation of small-scale fisheries governance, ‘from hook to cook}

The ABALOBI initiative is an open, transdisciplinary and social learning endeavour, bringing together various stakeholders, with traditional fishers taking centre stage. ABALOBI, as a mobile app suite and programme, is aimed at social justice and poverty alleviation in the small-scale fisheries chain, transformation in the way we produce knowledge, stewardship of our marine resources, and resilience building in the face of climate change.

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Many of our team members, including the small-scale fishers of South Africa, were integrally involved in the design of South Africa’s new Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, which emanated from a Constitutional Court Order and international human and fishing rights obligations. ABALOBI brings us together as an extension of our research, advocacy and policy work, and launches us into implementation and co-operative governance.
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{ Working towards good governance and embracing a human-rights-based approach to fisheries: Through the development of an integrated small-scale fisheries information management system and mobile app suite, the ABALOBI initiative aims to enable small-scale fishing communities to be incorporated into information and resource networks: from fishery monitoring and maritime safety, to local development and market opportunities }

ABALOBI, isiXhosa for small-scale fisher, is the name given to the app suite by small-scale fisherfolk involved in the co-development process


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    Promoting stewardship

    Fishers encouraged to serve as custodians and promote sustainability. Allows opportunity for integration with conservation efforts.

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    Empowerment in the value chain

    Working towards community-supported fisheries and traceable slowfish. Empowerment through market information and collective action.

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    Co-operative fisheries governance

    Using a common knowledge base, based on fishers’ daily data, all stakeholders at the co-management table are poised equally.

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    Ecosystems approach to fisheries

    Decisions by fishers and other stakeholders can be based on ecological and social indicators.

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    Climate change adaptation

    Improved safety at sea and resilience building in the face of climate change.

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    Enabling tool for policy implementation

    Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (South Africa) and UN-FAO Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (International)

{ What started as a participatory action research project with a strong community development interface, has evolved into a social enterprise that is now being registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and public benefit entity to better serve its fisher-driven mission }

Transdisciplinary research

Stakeholders work together in framing the problem and research needs, leading to the co-design of the tool based on input and tests in real-life contexts.

Co-design and fisher-driven process

Ensures data ownership and trust. Practical development and implementation within a bottom-up, participatory framework. Focus on product, process and enabling policy.

Open source & free for small-scale fishers

Leveraging the latest tech and open source platforms. Sharing innovations globally.

Recognition of fishers’ knowledge

Bridging local knowledge with science and policy. Developing knowledge for co-management.

ICT4D for small-scale fisheries: The ABALOBI initiative is about catalysing real transformation, of knowledge generation, of people, and of resource governance


The ABALOBI app suite comprises five inter-connected apps – conceptualised in a co-design process and currently in various stages of development and testing. The five apps cover the full spectrum of stakeholders in the small-scale fisheries sector from hook to cook, governance and beyond. Learn more …


The foundation of the app suite where fishers co–produce knowledge. Personal logbook with sharing options. Safety-at-sea integrations. More ...


Digitised community catch monitoring at the landing site & along the shoreline. More ...


Real-time fishery data & communications for co-management. More ...


Co-operative member & fleet management. Collective & transparent accounting. Catch value-adding. More ...


Fish with an ecological & social ‘story‘. Towards community-supported fisheries. Empowerment in the value chain. More ...

International reach

Beyond South Africa: An open source approach to the development of the ABALOBI platform seeks to allow customisation and use by small-scale fisheries stakeholders worldwide, aligned with the implementation of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.


Aligned with the United Nations SDGs


Founding partners


Get involved

We are seeking to expand our partnerships and procure additional funding for the continued development of ABALOBI. We welcome expressions of interest from prospective funders and research, technology & implementation partners ...

In the news


ABALOBI is committed to and aligned with several of the United Nations #SustainableDevelopmentGoals #SDGs through #DigitalTransformation of the #SmallScaleFisheries sector in South Africa 🇿🇦 and globally. Earlier this year we received international recognition in this regard through top 10 placement at the UNESCO Netexplo Forum 2017. We've also been selected as one of 14 case studies for the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World. More here 👉 ow.ly/2g2330f8eUK and via the UNESCO post below. ... See MoreSee Less

The UNESCO-Pearson literacy project has just launched its first batch of case studies that illustrat...

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Final day today at the UN-FAO workshop in Bellagio, Italy, aimed at co-developing a monitoring framework to track the implementation of the international Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable #SmallScaleFisheries (VGSSF). Keen to know more? This videographic, conceptualised and co-produced by members of ABALOBI, succinctly outlines the UN-FAO VGSSF, and makes the case for #ICT4fisheries initiatives such as ABALOBI. It encapsulates precisely what we are trying to achieve by working as stakeholders towards improved small-scale fisheries governance, locally and globally.

International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, World Forum of Fisher Peoples - WFFP, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
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We're in beautiful Bellagio, Italy, this week attending a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) workshop aimed at co-developing a monitoring framework to track the implementation of the UN "Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable #Smallscalefisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication":


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What sets ABALOBI apart? Co-design and ownership || The small-scale fishers drive the design and continual refinement of our {their!} app suite.

Our University of Cape Town #ICT4D Master’s degree student, Eduardo Koloma Jr, reports back on recent co-design:

“Information. Communication. Technology. When planning on introducing some kind of technology, information and communication are critical and should be prioritised over the technology itself. It is important to gather the necessary information in order to make informed decisions when designing a solution, as well as keeping the communication channels open and clear between everyone involved in the process. One may move back and forth between gathering information and communicating with all parties several times before even introducing any new technology.

Our work with fishers in Lambertsbaai on re-designing our ABALOBI ANALYTICS application, to help them better understand their catch data, has taken a similar approach. Over the course of 3 weeks we had discussions with several fishers to understand how the fishers measure success, how their catch data can help them keep track of this measure, and how we can collectively design an application that will visualise and make it easier for them to extract information to make decisions related to their fishing activities.

We gathered information about how fishers measure their success, explored several visualisation formats including but not limited text, pie charts and bar charts to gain insights into which visualisations the fishers were comfortable with. We followed this with a group discussion to come up with an initial design, enabling fishers to express the activities they would want to perform on their devices and allowing them to collectively discuss and make decisions on the design of application with minimal input from us. Minimising our input at this stage of the process increases discussion among fishers, as well promotes community discussion and OWNERSHIP of the final product.

We took the output of our group discussion to produce an interactive prototype. Prototypes allow for rapid iteration without committing to a specific design. We presented the new prototype to the fishers to gain feedback to ensure the prototype was in line with the their concept design as well as how the new design compares to previous applications.

We will deploy and evaluate the new design with our pilot fishers in Lambertsbaai to ensure it provides fishers with the information they need to make informed decisions to related to their fishing activities.”

– with LifeCo UnLtd SA

#ICT4Fisheries #smallscalefishers
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